We asked 16 photographers to share their hardest-won images and the wild, sometimes foolish, and invariably bold adventures behind them. From a nomadic Kutchi camp in Tajikistan to a frozen lake in Siberia, and everywhere in between, these pros show–and tell–how they got the job done.
I took this picture the moment we realized we were sinking. It was 1999 and I was in the hold of a 25-foot handmade sailboat with 44 Haitian immigrants. Water started pouring in and David, the man looking at the camera, said, “Chris, you’d better start taking pictures, because we only have an hour to live.” I was 29, trying to capture a journey of immigrants who risk everything to reach America. That I could die here hadn’t registered until this moment. All I could do was take photographs as a reflex, a way to deal with my fear, even though I assumed the pictures were going to die with me. We were saved by a Coast Guard cutter that happened upon us. It made me understand that taking photographs is as much about explaining the world to myself as it is about explaining it to other people.